Monday, June 27, 2005

Still standing

I live on the western edge of the Chicago metropolitan area. To the east of me is 70 miles of concrete, strip malls and tract homes. Two miles to the west is open farmland. In this zone where suburbs and farmland collide, suburbia makes its steady march, swallowing farms and fields as it goes.

Lester Teeple built the 16-sided barn you see here circa 1885. It’s the last one standing in Illinois. At the time the barn was built, Elgin was a dairy center, and the Elgin Board of Trade set the butter prices for the nation. Round dairy barns were in vogue at the time. Because the business end of a dairy cow is wider than its head, wedge-shaped stalls set in a circle allowed more cows to be housed than in a typical rectangular barn.

But times change. Elgin no longer rules the dairy market. The Teeple Barn now sits on the edge of an industrial park a couple hundred yards off Interstate 90. The lovely reflecting pond belongs to Matsushita Electric Corporation. In fact, the company bought the barn property in 1989, and has allowed a private foundation to renovate the barn and maintain it as a local landmark. Not all barns are as lucky as the Teeple Barn is. While a few have been renovated into museums or businesses as suburbia has made its advance, most are torn down.

Centuries ago, vast stretches of prairie grasses gave way to farm fields, which are now giving way to land developers. Something called progress.

Click on photo to enlarge. Copyright 2005 James Jordan Posted by Hello

1 comment:

Marie said...

Some friends have a round barn. They were farmers and now have a camp ground on their property. The barn remains as a reminder of their past.